Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction1 is an extensive study of the contents of Islam by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (b. 1951). It is an effort which spans almost two decades of both creative and critical thinking. This attempt to expound the contents of Islam is not a new one. Preceding Ghamidi is an illustrious series of names who have ventured forth to present Islam the way they have understood it. All these efforts are commendable and merit deep deliberation. A serious student should perhaps conduct a comparative study to gauge the approaches followed by each.
Ghamidi is a prominent pupil of Amin Ahsan Islahi (1904-1997), a profound exegete and a distinguished student of the prodigious Qur’anic scholar: Hamid al-Din Farahi (1863-1930). Ghamidi draws heavily on the approach and research of his two eminent predecessors. However, he has not only developed and lent precision to their approach and views, he has also made some original contributions in this regard.
The entire effort is a fresh interpretation of Islam from its original sources on the basis of the principles delineated in the first preamble. The reason that it has been undertaken is that interpretation of sacred texts has always remained a human endeavour and thus can never remain fault free. It is as a result of this principle that the author has continued to evaluate and re-evaluate even his own findings. He is of the opinion that no view or interpretation is acceptable if it cannot stand up to criticism. It should not have any value merely because a certain great scholar or authority presented it. Even the greatest of scholars are not immune to error; therefore, it is arguments and reasoning based only on the original sources of Islam that should be the basis for accepting or rejecting a point of view. Thus, just as the author has differed with authorities of the past, he has also differed from his two predecessors whose approach and research are foundational to this work.
Some distinctive features of the author’s approach evident from this book are summarized below:
1. The Qur’an is regarded as the mizan (the scale) and the furqan (distinguisher between right and wrong), a status which it itself claims. It is the scale in which everything related to religion must be weighed and is the decisive word in every matter of religion. Everything in religion must stand in subservience to its verdicts. It is as a result of this supreme status of the Qur’an that the author has made the following inferences:
i. There is only one reading of the Qur’an called the al-qira’at al-‘ammah (the general reading). It is only this reading which has been transmitted through tawatur and can thus be called the Qur’an. All other readings cannot be regarded as the Qur’an and none of them stands up to the criteria of tawatur.
ii. The muhkam and mutashabih verses of the Qur’an are distinct and easily discernable. The latter are verses that mention things which are beyond the grasp of human knowledge and observation or belong to matters of the Hereafter. Such things are mentioned in the form of comparison (tashbih) to things which we are aware of in our own language and through our own experience. The denotation of these verses is clear. However, human intellect is unable to understand the reality to which they refer.
iii. The Qur’an is a univocal book that conveys its meanings with absolute clarity and there is no ambiguity about them. The intentionality of its text is certain and unmistakable. Its words convey what they stand for with full certainty. Differences in its interpretation have arisen not because there is any defect in its language or style. They have arisen because human beings at times falter in their understanding which may be due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of deliberation or both.
iv. The Hadith is a historical record of Prophetic teachings. It cannot change or modify the Qur’an in any way. Its scope is confined to explaining and elucidating religion or in delineating the exemplar of the Prophet (sws). The Qur’an is not dependent on the Hadith for its explanation; On the contrary, the Hadith need to be interpreted in the light of the Qur’an.
2. The Sunnah is treated as an independent source of religion. It is distinct from Hadith. Since at times the Hadith also contains a record of the Sunnah, people have erroneously equated the two. The Sunnah refers to the tradition of Prophet Abraham’s (sws) religion which the Prophet Muhammad (sws) instituted among his followers as religion after reviving and reforming it and after making certain additions to it. The Sunnah was transmitted to the ummah by its perpetual adherence thereby carrying the same stamp of authority as the Qur’an.
3. The shari‘ah portion of the book has been entirely cleansed from fiqh. It is based purely on the author’s understanding of the divine law. Areas of fiqh like the application of shari‘ah to specific circumstances or judgements in which the shari‘ah is silent and ijtihad is needed are not touched upon. This is because all these areas belong to human intellect and are prone to change with change in circumstances and to variation because of a variance in intellect.
4. The sunnatullah (dealings and practices of God) have been separated from the shari‘ah. These dealings and practices emanate from God Himself and as such must not be undertaken by human beings in any way. In this regard, the most important of these divine practices: worldly punishment of the direct and immediate addressees of messengers of God who deliberately deny the truth is distinctly reflected in the contents of the book. Its specific nature is highlighted so that it is not confused as a directive of the shari‘ah.
5. The scheme of the book is based on the categorization of the Qur’an regarding the contents of Islam. According to the author, the Qur’an (2:231; 4:113; 62:2) itself divides the contents of Islam into two categories: al-Hikmah and al-Kitab. While the former refers to topics related to the philosophy of religion, the latter to those that relate to divine law (shari‘ah). He has further classified these two categories into sub-categories. al-Hikmah comprises two sub-categories: faith and ethics and al-Kitab comprises ten sub-categories: The Shari‘ah of Worship Rituals, The Social Shari‘ah, The Political Shari‘ah, The Economic Shari‘ah, The Shari‘ah of Preaching, The Shari‘ah of Jihad, The Penal Shari‘ah, The Dietary Shari‘ah, Islamic Customs and Etiquette, and Oaths and their Atonements.
Consequently, Part I of this book consists of topics related to al-Hikmah and Part II consists of topics related to al-Kitab. Two preambles to these two parts “Fundamental Principles” and “The Religion of Islam” introduce the reader to the hermeneutics which have led the author to his interpretation and to the overall framework of Islam respectively.
6. The overall interpretive approach can be termed as text-based. It is primarily the text of the Qur’an which determines the purport of what constitutes Islam. Each section of a chapter of this book begins with a verse(s) of the Qur’an which according to the author is the primary and foundational verse of the topic dealt with in that section. Qur’anic verses cited subsequently in that section are of secondary nature to that topic. Needless to say that discovering the basic verse of a section helps the reader in grasping the primary Qur’anic guidance on that topic in a precise manner.
While following the approach delineated above, the author has documented his understanding of Islam. Some of the important issues discussed and conclusions drawn in this treatise are briefly summarized below. Readers can look up the details during the course of their study.
Regarding the overall Framework of Islam:
1. The objective of Islam according to the Qur’an (62:2) is neither union with God nor the struggle for Islamic supremacy; it is the purification of individual and collective lives of the Muslims from contamination.
2. Of the two contents of Islam, al-hikmah and al-shari‘ah, the former has always been the same in all divine religions. It is only the latter which has changed because of change in the nature of society and civilization. This means that the foundations of faith and beliefs and those of morals and morality are common to all divine religions.
3. Faith in a person entails some permanent requirements and some contingent requirements. The former requirements include doing righteous deeds and urging one another to the truth and to remain steadfast on it. The latter requirements include migration for the cause of religion (hijrah), helping the cause of religion (nusrah) and adhering to justice (qiyam bi al-qist).
Regarding the Qur’an:
1. What best can be said of the genre of the Qur’an is that it resembles an oration. The speaker and the spoken to rapidly change in the text, and in order to have a deep understanding of the Qur’an a serious student must carefully determine the addresser and the addressees of each section of verses. Moreover, the general and specific verses of the Qur’an must be determined in the light of the context because many a time what is stated in general terms has a specific connotation.
2. According to the Qur’an (42:17) itself, is the final authority in religion. Thus instead of interpreting it in the light of extraneous sources like Hadith, such extraneous sources are in need of being interpreted in the light shed by the Qur’an.
3. There is only one reading of the Qur’an called the al-qira’at al-‘ammah (the general reading). It is only this reading which has been transmitted through tawatur and can thus be called the Qur’an. All other readings are in fact deviants and none of them stands up to the criteria of tawatur.
4. According to the Qur’an (75:16-19) itself, the text of the Qur’an was collected and finalized in the time of the Prophet (sws). None of the reports of Qur’an collections attributed to each of the first four caliphs is historically reliable.
5. The muhkam and mutashabih verses of the Qur’an are distinct and easily discernable. The latter are verses in which matters which are beyond the grasp of human knowledge and observation or belong to matters of the Hereafter.
6. The subject matter of the Qur’an is the warning delivered by the Prophet (sws) to his immediate addressees. This warning culminated in deciding their fate in this very world so that this whole exercise could become a corroboration of the reward and punishment that will be meted out to each and every person in the Hereafter.
7. The Qur’an is not an incoherent collection of verses and surahs. Both the verses in surahs and the surah themselves are meaningfully arranged. Thus each verse has a definite context which must necessarily be taken into consideration while interpreting it.
Regarding the Sunnah:
1. The Sunnah is primarily the religious practices of the Prophet Abraham (sws) which the Prophet Muhmmad (sws) revived and laid currency to among his followers. As such it pre-dates the Qur’an and is an independent source of Islam.
2. The subject matter of the Sunnah is always practices. It never relates to concepts or to precepts of faith. However, even in this sphere, if a practice is originated by the Qur’an, it cannot be regarded as a Sunnah.
3. The personal likes and dislikes of the Prophet (sws) cannot be classified as Sunnah.
Regarding the Hadith:
1. Hadith must be understood in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and never contain an independent directive of religion.
2. While understanding a Hadith, it is essential that all its variant texts on one topic be collected and collated to draw a conclusion from it.
3. Hadith which contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah cannot be accepted.
Regarding the Faith and Beliefs:
1. God’s being cannot be comprehended by human beings. They can only comprehend His attributes and practices. The latter are in fact some specific laws and dealings with human-kind which the Almighty has set upon Himself to follow. These laws and practices enable a person to experience God. They include his laws regarding trials and tests, providing guidance, remorse and repentance, rise and fall of nations, divine help and worldly reward and punishment.
2. Prophets and messengers of God have been sent for completion of guidance already found in human nature, and to conclusively communicate the truth to their followers.
Specific criteria have been set-forth to judge true Messengers of God of whom Muhammad (sws) was the last and final of the series.
Prophets never falter in delivering to their followers what has been revealed to them by the Almighty.
Although prophets of God may hold some degree of superiority in some sphere between one another yet all of them deserve equal respect, and no prophet of God should be regarded superior to others in absolute terms.
Intercession of the prophets only means that they can pray in support for the forgiveness of a believer. It can never violate the principles of justice.
3. The testimonies of the Hereafter are found in history, in human nature and in the world around man. Some of the signs of the Day of Judgement are very general and others are in the form of specific incidents and happenings. Of the specific signs only one is mentioned in the Qur’an (21:96-97) and it relates to the rise of Gog and Magog. Therefore, this only is the certain sign.
Regarding Morals and Morality:
1. Man is innately aware of good and evil and does not need any external guidance to determine it.
2. The Qur’an (17:22-39) has described in its ten commandments the mandatory morality which must be followed by every Muslim.
3. The Qur’an (33:35) has also outlined the pinnacle of morality which the Almighty wants the believers to strive for.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to Worship Rituals:
1. All worship rituals of Islam crystallized in the time of Abraham (sws). The Prophet (sws) only revived them and where needed cleansed them of innovations that had crept into them. These worship rituals are thus a Sunnah of Abraham (sws) which pre-date the Qur’an, and for this reason their details were not needed to be mentioned in the Qur’an.
2. Certain practices and utterances of the prayer are obligatory and others that are optional. One must be careful in making a distinction between them. Similar is the case with the rak‘at of each prayer.
3. The qasr prayer (shortened prayer) can be offered in all situations of fear, discomfort and unease.
4. The Friday and Eid prayers are the prerogative of the rulers and their representatives.
5. The rates of zakah range from 2.5 percent to 20 percent depending upon the nature of zakatable items.
6. There is no basis for tamlik (exclusive personal possession) in zakah, and it can be spent in all cases which relate to the welfare of state and religion.
7. The obligation of the fast is meant to produce taqwa in a person and so important is this objective that except for patients who can never fast, all missed fasts must be made up in later months.
8. In their overall capacity, hajj and ‘umrah symbolize man’s war against Satan.
9. Each component of hajj and ‘umrah like ihram, tawaf, sa‘i, hair-cut and rami has deep symbolic significance and philosophy which must be understood by a pilgrim if he or she wants to reap the real benefits of these worship rituals.
10. The significance of the ritual of animal sacrifice is that it is a symbolic expression of pledging one’s life for the cause of God.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to the Social Sphere:
1. For two reasons stated in the Qur’an (4:34), husbands are the heads of a family set-up. Specifically stated, these reasons are: (a) husbands are entrusted with providing for the family, and (b) they are temperamentally and physically more suited to discharge this responsibility.
2. A husband can only punish his wife if she starts to challenge his authority and threatens to disrupt the family set-up. Before resorting to physical chastisement, the two previous stages mentioned by the Qur’an (4:34) must elapse. Even after these stages, it never becomes obligatory upon him to physically punish her. He must exercise prudence in using this right by considering the circumstances of the society he is living in.
3. It is incorrect to conclude that Islam has allowed a Muslim to keep up to four wives at one time since keeping four wives is a man’s essential physiological and psychological need. In normal circumstances, a family comes into being through wedlock between one man and one woman. Islam has neither encouraged nor stopped a person from polygamy. It has not imposed any restriction in this regard except that the number of wives must not exceed four and that a husband must justly deal with them.
4. It is clear from the context of the Qur’an (5:5) that it is desirable though not binding for Muslim men to marry women from among the People of the Book in areas where Islamic values reign supreme. It is evident that in such conditions and circumstances, there is virtually no possibility of the Muslims being influenced by their moral values and cultural traditions.
5. The consent of the parents/guardians is not a legal requirement of marriage. The legal requirements are only two: the man and woman who intend to get married must be chaste and a man must pay dower (mahr) to his wife. However, the consent of the parents/guardians is a cultural and social requirement of marriage.
6. It is erroneous to conclude that a mature child can be suckled and hence treated as a foster child. The misconception has arisen by generalizing a Hadith of the Prophet (sws). As per the Qur’an, a child can only be regarded as a foster child if he is suckled in infancy with a definite intention to the purpose. Suckling a child through chance happenings or through a few drops does not entitle him to fosterage rights.
7. The amount of mahr (dower) should be fixed keeping in view the social customs and traditions of a society. Its quantity has not been ascertained by the Islamic shari‘ah.
8. It is only Surah Nur in which the norms of gender interaction are mentioned. Some of the important facts that are evident from these directives are:
a. Muslim women are not required by the shari‘ah to cover their faces.
b. Muslim women are required by the shari‘ah to cover their heads if they have embellished their hair. In case they have not, covering the head though is not obligatory, yet it is a desirable Muslim tradition.
c. Muslim women should wear clothes that do not make their breasts prominent. This can be done by covering them or by any other means that serve the purpose.
d. The expression ghadd al-basr used by the Qur’an (24:30) does not mean that men and women have to stare at the floor. It means that they must guard their gazes from taking undue liberty.
e. While following the norms underlined in the surah, men and women can visit each other and sit and eat together if they want to.
The directives mentioned in Surah Ahzab which are generally thought to relate to gender interaction specifically pertain to the household of the Prophet (sws). It is evident from their context that they cannot be extended beyond this sphere. They were primarily given to check the subversive activities of the Hypocrites who had started a malicious campaign to scandalize the private lives of the Prophet (sws) and his wives. It is by not understanding this aspect that the following misconceptions have arisen:
a. The house is the centre of activities of a wife.
b. Muslim women must not speak in a polite tone with strangers.
c. Muslim women should be kept secluded except from their immediate relatives.
d. Muslim women must wear large cloaks (jilbabs) when they go out of their houses.
9. Regarding divorce, it must be understood:
a. Only the husbands have the right to divorce. Wives cannot divorce their husbands. They can only demand divorce from them.
b. If husbands desire a separation from their wives, then they should do so according to the prescribed procedure mentioned in the Qur’an by uttering the divorce sentence once only. However, if someone who is ignorant of this procedure or owing to his own foolishness utters three divorce sentences in succession, then such a case should be decided by a court giving full allowance to his real intention.
c. It is evident from the Qur’an (33:49) that the real reason for the ‘iddat is to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not. Consequently, if it can be determined with certainty that a lady is not pregnant she will not be required to observe this period.
d. In no way is a husband authorized to take back the dower money from his wife in case he divorces her. He is also not authorized to take back any wealth or property gifted to her except in two specific cases mentioned in the Qur’an (2:229; 4:19).
e. The concept of halalah has arisen because of not understanding a very subtle sentence of the Prophet (sws) in a Hadith.
f. In case a husband exercises the option of divorcing his wife for the third time in his life, he will still have to provide residence and maintenance to her till the expiry of the ‘iddat period.
10. It is erroneous to believe that Islam permits its followers to keep slave-women and have sexual contact with them. The notion of keeping slaves has arisen by not giving due allowance to the fact that Islam had adopted a gradual procedure in the time of the Prophet (sws) to eliminate this social evil because of its deep roots in the society. After a program of gradual eradication adopted by Islam in the time of the Prophet (sws), the Qur’an (24:33) announced the final step in slave emancipation by giving them the authority to earn their freedom by showing that they would become responsible citizens of the society.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to the Political Sphere:
1. The form of government envisaged by Islam is neither a theocracy nor a monarchy. It is more akin to democracy as a Muslim government comes into existence on the basis of a public mandate and continues to exist as long as it commands the support of the majority.
2. The legal definition of a Muslim is that he is one who offers the prayer and pays zakah. Such a person shall legally be regarded as a Muslim and be entitled to all the rights a Muslim has in a Muslim State.
3. The Non-Muslim minorities of today living in Muslim countries can only be classified as mu‘ahids (citizens by contract).2 Keeping in view the general welfare of the state, through mutual consent, any contract can be made with non-Muslims of today regarding their rights. As such, all dealings with them should be according to the terms of the treaty concluded with them. The dhimmis are a category of non-Muslims specific to the age of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). The directives of fiqh related to them consequently cannot be related to the non-Muslims of today.
4. There is only one basis for negative legislation in a Muslim state: only those laws can be enacted that enforce what has been prohibited in Islam. For example, laws can be enacted against theft, adultery, murder and things which endanger the life, wealth and property of the people, but among the positive directives of Islam, except for the prayer and zakah, a Muslim state cannot forcefully demand anything from the believers. It cannot, for example, compel a Muslim to fast nor can it compel him to offer hajj even if he has the financial position to do so. In this regard, he may be sinning in the eyes of God, yet a Muslim state has not been authorized to use force.
5. Muslims can rise against their rulers only in certain circumstances. In case, they intend to resort to armed warfare to dislodge them, then the following conditions must necessarily be fulfilled:
a. Muslim rulers are guilty of openly and deliberately denying Islam or any of its directives.
b. The government should be a despotic one, which neither came into existence through the opinion of the people nor is it possible to change it through their opinion.
c. The person who leads this uprising should have a clear majority of the nation behind him and they are willing to accept him as their future ruler in favour of the existing one.
d. The rebels are able to establish their political authority in an independent piece of land.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to the Economic Sphere:
1. The issue of riba al-fadl (interest in transactions concluded on the spot) is a case of misinterpretation and has arisen in our fiqh because the narrators have mixed up the words of certain Ahadith.
2. The establishment of a public sector in a country is an essential ingredient of the economy envisaged by Islam so that wealth should not get concentrated among the rich and that it be directed to the sectors of the society which are dependent on others for their needs.
3. Many directives of prohibition given by the Prophet (sws) like muzara‘at (crop-sharing) are not absolute. They are based on the elements of deceit and harm that is present in them. If these elements can be eliminated from these transactions, their prohibition will no longer hold.
4. In a fresh interpretation of the law of inheritance, besides many other things, it is shown that if a person has a flair for relishing the finer aspects of a language, there is absolutely no need to employ the “Doctrine of Increase” (‘awl) to proportionately decrease the shares. All the shares can be perfectly distributed.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to Preaching:
1. The obligation of preaching relates to believers according to their various capacities. These capacities are distinct and must not be mixed up: they include, preaching responsibility of the messengers, of Abraham’s progeny, of the rulers, of the scholars and of individuals.
2. The preaching of the messengers always culminates in worldly reward and punishment of their immediate and direct addressees so that this exercise can become a visual proof for reward and punishment which shall take place in the Hereafter for each individual.
3. The Almighty has selected both branches of Abraham’s progeny (the Israelites and the Ishmaelites) to be a means of conclusively delivering the truth to other nations of mankind. If these descendents of Abraham (sws) adhere to the truth in their collective capacity, the Almighty will make them dominant over other nations, and if they do not, He will make them subservient to them.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to Jihad:
1. Only the state has the authority to wage jihad. No independent group or organization has the right to launch an armed struggle in any way.
2. After the departure of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta), the only legitimate reason for an Islamic State to wage jihad is to curb oppression and persecution in another country – whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
3. Jihad becomes compulsory for a state only if in the opinion of its rulers it has the moral grounds and the military might to curb the oppression and injustice of the country against which jihad is to be waged. What can be said on the basis of the Qur’an is that Muslim to enemy ratio should be at least 1:2 in terms of relative military strength for the Muslims to expect victory.
4. Jihad was or is never carried out for territorial aggrandizement or forcible conversion of people to Islam. People who erroneously justify either or both of these two bases draw their arguments from the jihad carried out by the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta). It needs to be appreciated that the jihad carried out by Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) after him was governed by a specific law meant only for the Messengers of Allah and their immediate addressees, and has nothing to do with later Muslims. A study of the Qur’an reveals that the purpose of their jihad was to administer Divine punishment to people who had arrogantly denied the truth in spite of being convinced about it.
5. A Muslim can only be regarded as a sinner in the eyes of God by not participating in jihad if he does not offer himself for jihad on the appeal of a Muslim state. Less than this, he cannot be regarded to have committed sin.
6. Prisoners of war cannot be kept or treated as slaves. They can be set free either after accepting ransom or as a favour.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to Punishments:
1. Only a Muslim state has the authority to administer punishments. No individual or group has been given this right.
2. Islam has prescribed punishments in a limited sphere only. It has prescribed punishments for what it considers to be the five major crimes. They are fasad fi al-ard,3murder, fornication, accusing someone of fornication and theft. The punishments of all other crimes have been left to state authorities to legislate.
3. The death sentence can only be given in two cases as per the Qur’an: to a person who has killed someone or to someone who is guilty of spreading lawlessness and disorder in a society. No other person can be punished by death.
4. The punishments of fornication and theft are extreme forms of reproof, and should be given only if the nature of the crime and the circumstances in which it was committed entails no lenience to the criminal.
5. As far as diyat is concerned, though it is an everlasting law which must be obeyed in all times, yet its quantity, nature and other related affairs have been left upon the customs and traditions of a society. Consequently, no eternal quantity of diyat has been fixed by Islam, nor has it instructed Muslims in any manner to discriminate between a man or a woman, a free man or a slave and a Muslim or a non-Muslim in this matter.
6. It is incorrect to conclude that Islam discriminates between married and un-married men or women who are guilty of fornication. Their punishments are essentially the same. It is only in cases when fornication is compounded by certain other elements, making the nature of the crime more severe that certain other punishments are added to the original form of punishment.
7. Islam does not require four eye-witnesses in ordinary cases of fornication nor has it fixed a number of witnesses to prove a crime. Only in two cases has it prescribed a certain number. The first of them is regarding prostitutes. In their case, if four witnesses testify to their ill-ways, then this is enough to punish them. The second case concerns accusing chaste and morally sound women of fornication – about whom no one can even imagine that they can commit such a crime. In their case, Islam wants four eye-witnesses to even start the proceedings of a case. In this regard, the purpose is the protection of reputation of a chaste lady. Even if she has faltered, it should be kept hidden from the society.
It may be noted here that the above points relate to the shari‘ah regarding Islamic punishments. Presented below are the views of the author which do not belong to this shari‘ah but relate to the sphere under discussion.4
1. As far as criminal evidence is concerned, two things must be kept in consideration:
(i) Islam does not discriminate between a man and a woman. In all criminal cases, it is left to the discretion of the judge whether he accepts someone as a witness or not. If a woman testifies in a clear and definite manner, then her testimony cannot be turned down simply on the basis that there is not another woman and man to testify alongside her.
(ii) In all cases of Islamic law, a crime legally stands proven not only by the testimony of the witnesses or by the confession of the criminals themselves but also by any additional or circumstantial evidence. Medical examination, cameras, postmortem reports, finger prints and other similar aids can also be used in proving a crime.
2. The punishment of apostasy was specifically meant for the Idolaters of Arabia under a specific law of the Almighty which applies only in the age of His Messengers. According to this law, people who advocated polytheism in spite of being convinced of its falsity were punished by death by the Almighty Himself through His Messengers. After the departure of the last of the Messengers, this punishment has no bearing whatsoever upon any person or nation.
3. Islam has not prescribed any punishment for blasphemy per se. An Islamic state can enact any law in this regard keeping in view the expediency of the Muslims. However, death punishment cannot be administered to those guilty of blasphemy unless this amounts to spreading anarchy in the society.
4. The jail punishment was never a part of the Islamic penal code. It is an inhuman punishment which actually punishes the family of the criminal and should be done away with.
Regarding the Shari‘ah related to the Dietary Sphere:
1. Islam wants its believers to consume only ritually pure food. However, it has not provided a comprehensive list in this regard because human nature is fully equipped to take a decision in this regard,
2. Islam has only guided believers in this matter on four items because human nature and intellect could have faltered in deciding about their prohibition or allowance. These include: carrion, flowing blood, pork and meat on which the name of God has not been taken while slaughtering an animal.
3. The prohibition of consuming liquor is innately found in human beings. A divine directive was not even needed to prohibit it.
Regarding the Shari‘ah of Islamic Customs and Etiquette:
The objective of all Islamic customs and etiquette is to purify the human soul. They include:
1. Declaring Allah’s name before eating and drinking and using the right hand for the purpose.
2. The ceremonial salutation السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ (al-salamu ‘alaykum) and its response when people meet one another.
3. The ceremonial utterance اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ (al-hamdullilah: all gratitude is for Allah only) after sneezing and its response by saying يَرْحَمُكَ اللّٰہِ (yarhamukallah: may Allah have mercy upon you) by those who hear it.
4. Clipping the moustache.
5. Shaving the pubes.
6. Removing hair from under the armpits.
7. Cutting nails.
8. Circumcising the male offspring.
9. Cleaning the nose, the mouth and the teeth.
10. Cleaning the body after urination and defecation.
11. Taking the ceremonial bath after the menstrual cycle and the puerperal discharge.
12. Ceremonial bath after janabah.
13. Bathing a dead body, enshrouding it in coffin cloth and its burial.
14. The festivals of ‘Id al-Fitr and ‘Id al-Adha.
1. The original Urdu title of this translation is Mizan (lit. the Scale).
2. The treaty of Madinah made with Jewish tribes by the Prophet (sws) is an example of this type of citizenship.
3. This term encompasses all mischievous acts of criminals who take the law into their own hands, create disorder and anarchy in the society and become a menace to public safety and social order in any sense.
4. Hence they are not found in Mizan; they are found in some of the other works of the author. The reason for relating these views here is to bring all the views of the author regarding Islamic punishments to the reader.